Larry Wheels is one of the most visible figures in the strength community. His social media profiles are typically packed with deadlift, squat, and bench personal records (PR) that are sometimes hard to fathom — even when you’re watching them.
But the fan-favorite powerhouse recently took to his YouTube channel to make a surprising announcement: He’s getting off steroids indefinitely. Wheels notes that he’s been using “all kinds of performance-enhancing drugs,” or PEDs, for the last decade.
Editor’s Note: BarBend does not intend to make a moral or ethical statement regarding the athlete’s actions. This article is reporting on the information laid out in a video published by the athlete themselves. BarBend is not a medical resource and does not endorse the recreational use of performance-enhancing drugs.
As Wheels gets off steroids, though, he says he now needs to go on testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) because his body can no longer make testosterone naturally.
According to a study published in The Lancet, TRT is a treatment for hypogonadism, a condition where the sex glands produce irregular amounts of testosterone. Symptomatic hypogonadism can lead to “muscle wasting and weakness.” (1)
Wheels’ goal is to be on TRT for 175 milligrams per week. He says that is “on the higher side of being a natural, healthy male in his prime.”
The Difference Between TRT and Anabolic Steroids
It’s true that anabolic steroids contain testosterone, but it’s typically in doses that are well above what the body produces on its own. With TRT, though, the goal is to administer just enough of the hormone to bring the body’s levels to a more natural state (2).
In the video, Wheels says he will get his blood work done by a doctor, and if his testosterone levels are “more than what’s necessary” after treatments, they will decrease his doses.
Why Is Larry Wheels Going Off Steroids?
Wheels explained that one of the major reasons for his decision to forsake exogenous drugs has to do with wanting to see what he can achieve in the gym without the PEDs.
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“Seeing what I’m capable of on TRT is more of a priority to me, is more exciting — it makes me feel invigorated,” Wheels says. “I’ve been on PEDs and hitting PRs the last decade […] I know if I push the envelope enough, if I go to the extremes enough, I can get [to a 1,000-pound deadlift]. But what I don’t know is how will I perform without all of that assistance.”
Wheels also notes he feels like the move might make him a better lifter overall. “It will force me to be more disciplined with everything: food, recovery, training,” he says.
“When you’re on cycle, you can get away with a lot, you can make mistakes, you can be a bit lazy,” he remarks on the ease of gaining or maintaining strength while on drugs.
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This decision also comes on the heels of an injury for Wheels. While prepping for the 2022 Middle East’s Strongest Man (MESM) contest, the aspiring strongman strained his back during a deadlift session (according to Breaking Muscle).
The athlete has suffered numerous injuries during his career. In 2019, Wheels injured his ankle while squatting and then tore his biceps the following April. Two years later, Wheels says he hurt his lat while deadlifting 855 pounds. And then in September of 2021, Wheels tore his quad while prepping for a powerlifting meet.
Wheels does not explicitly mention any of these injuries; nor does he say they factored into his decision. He does, however, imply that PEDs have enabled him to “rush the [training] process, and I got injured during the process.”
Wheels doesn’t give a timetable for how long he’ll be off steroids, but he does admit that there will likely be a time again in the future when a PR — like the 1,000-pound deadlift — will necessitate going back on PEDs. But for right now, he’s willing to see what he can pull off without them.
1. Hudson, Jemma et al. Adverse cardiovascular events and mortality in men during testosterone treatment: an individual patient and aggregate data meta-analysis The Lancet Healthy Longevity, Volume 3, Issue 6, e381 – e393
2. Matthew Hoffman, MD, Is Testosterone Replacement Therapy Right for You?, WebMD, March 2021
Featured Image: @larrywheels on Instagram